Charges weigh on Corn Products Q2 results

by Eric Schroeder
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WESTCHESTER, ILL. — Pre-tax impairment and restructuring charges weighed on second-quarter earnings at Corn Products International, Inc., as the Westchester-based company sustained a loss of $84.8 million in the period ended June 30. This compared with net income of $68.4 million, equal to 92c per share on the common stock, in the same period a year ago.

The $125 million in pre-tax impairment and restructuring charges included $119 million pre tax, $106 million after tax, for the South Korean goodwill write-off and $6 million pre tax, $4 million after tax, in an asset write-off and international restructuring charges.

Net sales for the second quarter were $911.6 million, down 11% from $1,028.5 million in the same period a year ago. Corn Products said $24 million in improved price/mix was more than offset by a negative $91 million from foreign currency translations and a negative $50 million from lower volumes.

In announcing second-quarter results, Corn Products maintained its earnings-per-share guidance for 2009 at $1.70 to $2.10.

In the company’s North American business, operating income was $33.4 million in the second quarter, down 61% from $85.5 million in the second quarter last year. Higher net corn costs and lower volumes accounted for the drop. Gross corn costs per ton were up 26%, and net corn costs were up 89% because of lower co-products prices. As an example, the company said the spot price of corn oil declined 59% over the past year.

Net sales in North America were $584.4 million, down 4% from $609.3 million in 2008.

In South America, second-quarter operating profits were $26.4 million, down 28% from $36.5 million in 2008. Sales were $228.2 million, down 23%.

Asia/Africa operating income was $5.6 million, versus $12.7 million a year ago. Sales were $99 million, down 19%.

Ilene Gordon, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said the second half of 2009 should be stronger than the first half, primarily due to anticipated lower net corn costs.

"We expect volumes in North America to continue to be on the same trend as the first half, while we expect the rest of the world’s volumes to pick up," Ms. Gordon said. "While the global economy is adversely affecting our earnings this year, we believe we have a strategic advantage in this difficult environment, which is our healthy balance sheet and solid liquidity. We operate from a position of strength and flexibility. Our expectation for significant cash flow from operations of $425 million to $525 million in 2009 should give us ample options and maneuverability as we work through the global recession."

Ms. Gordon said the company expects to hold capital expenditures between $125 million and $150 million during fiscal 2009.

For the six months ended June 30, Corn Products sustained a loss of $68.1 million, which compared with net income or $132.7 million in the first half of fiscal 2008. Net sales were $1,742.7 million, down 11% from $1,959.4 million in the same period a year ago.

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